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Tue 28 Mar 2017 09:42 AM

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Film festival opens in cinema-less Saudi Arabia

Festival is scheduled to open with a drama that resonates, as the kingdom's tentative efforts to expand entertainment face resistance from conservatives

Film festival opens in cinema-less Saudi Arabia
Saudi actor Saed Khader waves his honour award for his achievements at the opening ceremony of the fourth Saudi Film Festival. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Saudi Film Festival opened Monday with 58 homegrown cinematic works to be screened in the ultra-conservative kingdom that continues to ban public cinemas.

"Welcome to all of you, filmmakers, makers of art and makers of hope," festival director Ahmed al-Mulla told participants at the opening ceremony, which was broadcast online.

The fourth edition of the festival had been slated to run from March 23-28 in the Gulf coastal city of Dhahran, but it was pushed back due to stormy weather.

This is the third consecutive annual film festival in Saudi Arabia after a hiatus of seven years.

The festival includes four competitions for feature films, documentaries, student productions, and unproduced scripts.

It is scheduled to open with a drama that resonates, as the kingdom's tentative efforts to expand entertainment face resistance from conservatives.

"Wasati" directed by Ali Alkalthami is based on the true story of extremists trying to disrupt a play at a university theatre in Riyadh 10 years ago.

Saudi Arabia late last year began a cautious push to introduce entertainment, despite opposition from Muslim hardliners.

Other events on offer for Saudi spectators have been the New York theatrical group iLuminate, the Comic-Con pop culture festival, and WWE wrestling.

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MattJ 3 years ago

Please keep us updated who live abroad, I'd like to know more if the Festival in KSA is a success! Wishing them all the luck and hope change comes with open minds to those there. See the potential their people can do, see the world rather than a closed minded view...

Fentoni 3 years ago

Sounds like the plot to a comedy movie. I'd call it 'A flicker of hope'